Political ads to be banned on Twitter

There’s no doubt that the Cambridge Analytica scandal has damaged the reputation of many social media platforms. And with trust in online platforms at an all-time low, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced earlier this week that political ads will be banned from 22nd November.

In a series of tweets, he said that the changes to the platform are intended to stop advertising being able to “pay to increase the reach of political speech” and that it “isn’t credible” to tell Twitter users to stop sharing misinformation while still letting advertisers to use the platform.

He added: A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet. Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money.”

Under Twitter’s new policy, any political advertising – this is defined as any message that advocates for or against “legislative issues of national importance” towards an election or a candidate – will be banned on the platform. This excludes ads encouraging voter registration.

This follows Twitter’s earlier announcement that it would start adding “labels” to tweets written by government officials and political leaders if they violated the websites rules. And in addition, it would add a feature that would stop these tweets being liked or retweeted, or the content being shared.

In a comment, possibly directed at Mark Zuckerberg who recently defended Facebook’s decision to continue allowing political ads due to “free expression”, the Twitter CEO said: “This isn’t about free expression. This is about paying for reach”.

He added: “Paying to increase the reach of political speech has significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle. It’s worth stepping back in order to address. While internet advertising is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics.”

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